An update!? Yes. It is indeed. I would apologize for taking so long, but I can make no guarantee that it will not happen again. Therefore, it is my sincerest hope that your patience continues and that you will enjoy this newest chapter I have written for you.
I finished the second draft of my novel a couple of weeks ago, so I'm on a break of sorts right now from it, but not for much longer. However, I am planning to still work on my FF stories occasionally when I get the chance because I promise that I do intend to finish them.
Anyway, neither of these fantastic fandoms belong to me, I'm sure I didn't do the characters justice—Morgan, Prentiss, Rossi, and JJ are hard...—and I hope you enjoy it. Leave a review if you feel like it. Those never fail to make me happy… :)
Alex and Hotch visit the 4th crime scene and find a note referencing Tom's kidnapping and death. After a call to Garcia, Alex concludes that the kidnapped boy is Harrison Walker and that he is being held at the construction site of a new hotel. The team heads there.
Alex and Hotch had been the furthest from the old church site. By the time Hotch parked the car in front of the building's framework, Morgan was already shoving an elegant woman who appeared into her early thirties into the back of a waiting squad car. Alex studied the woman's face, taking in the dark brown of her eyes, the sharp, defined features. Not a face someone would forget. Much less Alex.
He never forgot a face.
And certainly not the face of someone who would be responsible for something like this.
The slamming of the car door blurred Alex's sight of the woman, but he didn't look away. She had caught his attention. As though he could have missed the signs. But what had been the point? Alex knew he had enemies. Knew that some of them would love nothing more than to cause him pain. This felt pointless. More than that, it felt like someone had made a mistake.
That was what Alex had the biggest issue with. No one who had this level of knowledge of Alex's life as well as the intention to drag it all back up for him would be so careless as to get caught here. And that left Alex's nerves jittering, his fingers tapping against his thigh as he watched Prentiss walk out with Harrison Walker, the boy wrapped up in a shock blanket, but thankfully still alive.
Alex looked up, meeting Hotch's concerned face. "Yeah, Hotch?"
Alex forced his hand to still, wondering if it was what had tipped Hotch off. He shook his head to push the idea away—if he had, he couldn't fix that now—and met Hotch's eyes. "It feels too easy." Nothing with SCORPIA was ever easy.
Hotch tensed at Alex's words, no doubt remembering the last time that Alex had said that phrase, only to end up being held by the Unsub's partner for the next three days. The team had spent the weeks following that at first hovering around his apartment and then his desk, making sure he was sleeping enough, drinking water, eating properly.
Alex had almost run. It was early enough into meeting the team that he hadn't been entirely comfortable with the way they showed their concern. In the end, Alex was glad he hadn't run. Even if Joe's refusal to help him had been one of the only reasons for that.
"We'll interview her back at the station," said Hotch, "but it's always a possibility that she made a mistake."
Alex's fingers started thrumming against his leg again, but he didn't notice, eyes still fixed over the crime scene, watching the crime scene investigators moving in to catalog the scene. "Yeah. Maybe." The words sounded unsure, even to Alex, but something about this didn't sit right with him. Something was wrong. And with his luck, it would only be a matter of time before he found out what. Odds were, he wasn't going to like it.
"I will only speak to Alex Rider."
Derek slammed his hands against the table, the veins in his face pulsing with anger. The woman didn't so much as flinch. He and Prentiss had spent the last thirty minutes interviewing the woman, and thus far, every question had been met with the same seven-word answer. She had declined representation from an attorney, and they had yet to make a positive identification on her.
"Why did you leave the note?" Morgan asked, voice hard.
Emily cut in, her voice softer, hoping to appeal to the woman's better nature. "If you cooperate, we can work with the DA and try to cut you some kind of deal. But you need to start answering our questions."
"I will only speak to Alex Rider."
But then even Prentiss's "good cop" routine hadn't been working on this woman. Morgan's hands clenched and he was about to fire another answer at her—not anticipating more luck, but just hoping that maybe they would catch her off guard—when a rapping sounded on the glass.
Morgan let out a breath as he and Prentiss left the interrogation room. This woman was too calm. Too collected. Almost as though she were still in control of the situation. As though they hadn't caught her in the same building as a kidnapped boy. It didn't match up. Derek wanted to find out why.
"Is there some way we can find this Alex Rider?" Morgan asked after he had come back into the room that Aaron and the rest of the team had been observing the interview from.
Prentiss nodded. "I agree. It doesn't seem like she's going to give anything away. Finding Rider seems like the easiest way to get her to talk."
"And to get some answers," Spencer added. "The note from the fourth crime scene was addressed to him. It would make sense that he could fill in some of the blanks."
Hotch was tracking the conversation with half of his attention, but the rest was fixed on Jaxon. The younger agent, while he looked to be paying attention—sitting cross-legged on one of the desks—was clearly distracted. Tucker was smart, quick. Usually, he would've jumped into the conversation with a plan for how to get the woman to talk or even some crazy explanation for how they could locate Rider.
"What you guys are saying makes sense," Rossi was saying, "but odds are by the time we locate him, it would be too late to do much of anything."
JJ reentered the room, lowering her phone from her ear.
"Did Garcia find anything, JJ?" Hotch asked, letting his attention drift from Jaxon, whose eyes had not snapped to JJ with the rest of the team. Hotch wasn't sure how he should react. It wasn't that Jaxon was the most vocal member of his team, but he had never seen him this distracted before. And it was obvious that it all tied back to the case. But would mentioning it prompt an answer? Or would Jaxon respond by hiding the strange behavior?
"She found twelve people registered under that name in the United States and more in other countries. None live nearby, and she didn't think there was anything special about any of them."
Morgan groaned. "Great. A dead end."
"We could try calling them all. See if they know anything." Spencer said. "It would be worth a try anyway."
Rossi was nodding. "That might be our best—"
"Let me try to talk to her."
Hotch's eyes snapped to Tucker, whose eyes were fixated on the woman behind the glass. It seemed almost like he was deliberately avoiding meeting the team's eyes, left hand turning white where he was clenching the desk.
Morgan laughed, but Aaron could hear the unease in it. He couldn't decide if it made him feel better or worse that Morgan noticed something off about the statement as well.
"Sorry, kid, but I don't think even you could get this one to talk," Morgan said.
When Morgan said the words, Aaron started to doubt if they were true. There was something in the set of Jaxon's face. The tension of someone about to do something repulsive. But he looked like someone who had made up their mind.
"Trust me," Jaxon said, his eyes left the glass, meeting Hotch's for a split second, an apology echoed in his eyes.
Hotch's mind flashed back to earlier that day. Jaxon had uttered that same phrase, but the facial expression hadn't registered until now. It was hopelessness. Hopelessness as he promised he would explain everything. Hopelessness as he pleaded with Hotch, his words asking for trust, his eyes afraid to hope for forgiveness. Hotch had seen that look before. In the eyes of an Unsub who came forward to confess their crimes in the midst of a moment's clarity.
It terrified him.
Before he could say anything, a silent exchange between Spencer and Jaxon stilled him. Those two had always understood each other on a level the others could never. When Tucker looked away, there was a knowing look in Reid's eyes.
"He can do it," Reid said, voice sure, posture tensed with worry.
For Jaxon? Aaron had a sinking feeling that whatever it was that had Jaxon bothered, Spencer knew about it. And he wasn't sure that it was going to go well. But Hotch couldn't deny that they were stuck. Hotch met Rossi's gaze with his eyebrows raised.
Rossi shrugged. "It can't hurt."
Hotch wouldn't have gone that far. "If you think it'll work," he paused to give Jaxon a chance to nod, "then give it a shot."
Jaxon jumped off the desk, walking toward the interrogation room. He turned back, opening his mouth as though to say something before shaking his head and turning away. The door to the interrogation room opened and Jaxon stepped into the room. Hotch felt a sense of foreboding. The intense feeling of something wrong about to happen. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and watched.
Spencer watched nervously as Jax sat at the interrogation table, hands folded in front of him, just staring at the woman. This was it. Spencer had known for years that Jax wasn't really Jaxon Tucker, but despite Jax's insistence that he would one day tell him, Spencer hadn't expected to learn it now. In this way. He doubted that Jaxon had expected it either.
How would Jaxon react to the revelation of his secrets? Spencer wasn't sure. But he supposed that it would depend on how the rest of the team reacted. And whether Jax was Alex Rider or if Alex Rider was someone else that Jax just happened to know. Spencer could have seen it happening either way.
When Jaxon didn't say anything, the woman spoke. "I already told the others. I will only speak to Alex Rider."
Jaxon was silent for several moments longer. "I know." Jaxon tensed. "I am Alex Rider."
Alex met the woman's skeptical gaze, trying to keep his focus away from whatever was happening on the other side of the glass. He couldn't think about how the team was reacting. Doing so was sure to drive him into a near-panic. Alex knew what it felt like to be lied to, and he had been lying to his teammates about who he was for five years. The odds that he would still be welcome on this team when the case closed, were dwindling by the second.
"And why would I believe that?" the woman asked, lips curling into a scowl.
Alex drew his arms back over his chest. "Believe what you will. Though I will admit that I find it odd whoever hired you didn't provide you with my photograph."
Surprise flashed in her eyes. "I never said that someone hired me."
"If you were here of your own volition, I would have recognized you."
She drummed her nails against the table. "If you are Alex Rider, surely you will be able to prove that."
"Of course, what information would you like?" Alex fought to keep his tone light, almost careless, but he could feel his pulse slamming through his veins. What information would persuade her? What information did she know? The answers to those questions could reveal who was behind this.
"You must, of course, know who they are supposed to be."
Alex flinched, pulling his hands below the table. The involuntary reaction that struck anytime he let his mind fixate on any of the people she was alluding to. A slight tremor laced his voice as he rattled off the list of names. "John, Helen, Ian, Jack, Liz, Edward, Sabina, Tom." He spat out the words as quickly as he could, eager to wipe away the flashes of each that swept through his mind's eye.
The woman raised her eyebrows, nodding. "Alright." She raked her eyes over him. "You're younger than I expected."
"Who is it that hired you?"
"He didn't give me his name, but he had a very specific list of instructions that he wanted me to follow."
"So after you got yourself caught, what was it he wanted you to tell me?"
The woman's eyes widened. "You're quick."
"The specifics of the killings were what mattered to him. He said that you would know who they were supposed to be. It was all about getting your attention."
Alex had already known that. The killings had been too specific for anything else to have been the case. "Yes. And why did he want my attention?"
Here, the woman smirked, a cold expression coming onto her face as her voice dropped into a whisper. "He has a message for you. One that he wished me to deliver." She stopped talking.
Beneath the table, Alex's hands shook. "And that is?"
"He would like me to inform you that 'she wants you back.'" She rolled her wrist over, and a small flower tattooed below her palm caught Alex's gaze.
Alex jumped up from his chair, which wobbled precariously as he moved backward, eyes still fixed on the flower.
This wasn't SCORPIA. This wasn't an old enemy. This was MI6. The organization that, while they had ruined his life, was supposed to be on his side.
Alex took a deep breath, forcing his eyes up to meet the woman's eyes. There was other information they needed. He slid a paper and pen across the table in front of her. "Full name, date of birth, and home address please." He barely managed to keep his voice steady.
The woman smirked as she picked up the pen. "He said that you would react like this."
As the pen touched the paper, Alex was out of the room, letting the door slam behind him.
"I am Alex Rider."
Aaron froze as Jaxon's words registered in his mind, eyes staring through the glass.
Morgan drew a sharp breath. "That's a pretty good strategy."
He didn't sound convinced either.
If anyone would have come up with a strategy of impersonating someone to get an Unsub to talk, it would have been Jaxon. But he also would have mentioned the strategy to them beforehand, and he wouldn't look so nervous about it.
"I don't think this is a strategy," Hotch said, looking away from the glass to meet Reid's eye.
Spencer swallowed. "It's not."
"If he really is Alex Rider, wouldn't the Bureau—" Rossi cut off as Jaxon rattled off a list of names, looking increasingly bothered as he did so. "Who, exactly, is Alex Rider? Why is Tucker using a fake name?"
Everyone's eyes went to Reid, though Hotch noted that Emily's face was scrunched up as though she were trying to remember something.
"I don't know." Spencer shook his head. "I've never heard the name Alex Rider before."
Aaron studied the tension in Reid's shoulders. "But you did know that Jaxon Tucker wasn't his real name?"
Reid's eyes widened. He stuttered for a moment before admitting that he did.
"And that didn't seem important to mention," Morgan said, voice raising slightly.
Spencer tensed, his eyes narrowing into a sharp glare that so rarely crossed his face. "He's still Jaxon. The name doesn't change that. 2.1 million people change their names each year; it isn't all that uncommon."
"But this means that his file is inaccurate. It isn't there."
"You hid things from your file too."
Morgan blew out his breath, his voice rising—not yelling, but sharpening. "I didn't lie about my entire life."
"Well maybe he had a good reason," Spencer said, voice quiet as though he was still trying to decide whether or not he wanted to say the words aloud.
Hotch cut him off. "Reid's right. We don't know why Tucker lied, but until we find out, I think we owe him the benefit of the doubt."
"Kid's one of us," Rossi said, lips quirking upward and tension fading away. "He's a damn good agent and a good person. He'll have a reason."
Morgan was nodding, but Aaron's eyes slid back to the glass as the sound of voices disappeared. The woman was whispering something, and Jaxon looked tense. Like he had at the house.
Hotch jumped as Jaxon leaped out of the chair, hands shaking, eyes fixed on the woman's wrist. Aaron stood up, ready to step into the room and finish the interrogation for him, but within seconds, Tucker had pulled his walls back up. He slid a paper to her and ordered her to write her information.
The woman smiled—a horrible smile that set off warning bells in Aaron's mind. "He said you would react like this."
"He who?" Morgan asked as Jaxon all but ran from the room.
Spencer nodded at the room. "I suppose whoever hired her."
"Do we know who that is?"
The handle on the door turned, slowly, as though the person on the other side were debating if they wanted to open it. But Hotch knew it was Jaxon. Just like he knew that as much as the team wanted answers, they needed to get this case wrapped up first. That wasn't going to happen if they were all distracted by Tucker's—or rather, Rider's—past.
Jaxon stepped through. His jaw was clenched, his face partially flushed from the conversation and, presumably, whatever it was the woman had whispered to him. The second he came through the door frame, all eyes in the room snapped in his direction. After seeing the shocked looks the team was giving Jaxon, Aaron wasn't surprised to see Jaxon's face set.
"Tucker," Morgan started. The anger was gone, but some of the sharpness was still there. "Why didn't—"
Jaxon was across the room and out the other side before Morgan could finish. Spencer jumped to his feet, making like he intended to follow, but Aaron waved him off.
"Reid, I need you and Morgan to go in and finish up this interview. Get as much information as you can."
"But," Reid said, "Jax?"
"I'll go talk to him."
Spencer glanced at the door, but ultimately, he and Morgan agreed to go finish off the interview, just as Hotch had expected. Reid wasn't usually one to push back. Not on a direct order.
Aaron sat back down letting out a sigh. This was going to be a long day.
"You're not going to go talk to him?" Rossi asked, eyebrows raised.
Hotch straightened. "I will. I just want to give him a minute to cool off."
Rossi nodded. They watched the glass for a few moments before Rossi said, "Do you have any idea what this all might be about? Who Rider is? Or, who Jaxon was?"
Aaron shook his head and was about to respond when Prentiss spoke for the first time in several minutes. "I think I've heard the name before. I don't know where, but it feels familiar."
"Familiar how?" Rossi asked, "Like with SCORPIA?"
Emily nodded. "I heard it somewhere else. It's been bothering me since we started the interrogation, but I can't come up with the context of the name."
"Could it be related to SCORPIA? It can't be a coincidence that you recognized both."
Prentiss shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe?"
Hotch stood up. "I'll ask him about it." He looked at Rossi. "Make sure that Reid doesn't come out, Dave." He wanted to talk to Jaxon with as few interruptions as possible. That was always the best way to get real answers out of him. Especially when Jaxon was sure to be looking for any excuse to redirect the conversation.
"Sure." Rossi smiled. "Go easy on him; I'm sure it's been a rough day for him."
Aaron nodded. It had been a hard day for all of them, but if Jaxon was the targeted audience of the killings. That made it personal. Personal cases were always the hardest. Hotch followed Jaxon's path out of the room, hoping that the conversation would go well. Or more accurately, that it wouldn't go as horribly as he expected.
I hope you enjoyed! It occurred to me that the pacing of this story is kind of fast. I apologize for that, but I don't have enough practice with the third person at this point to fix it. Maybe someday.
Please shoot me a review if you're feeling it! And if anyone wants to follow my writing Instagram account that I started a couple of months ago it is shel_b_laine (which will hopefully one day be my pen name).
Dobby and Padfoot: over and out! :)